Thursday, March 29, 2007

Porn Increases Literacy

O.K. so the title of this post is a purposefully titillating. But I read an interesting paper called Circulating Libraries and Video Rental Stores that compares for-profit libraries in 19th-Century England with Video Rental stores of the 80's and 90's. Here are some of the similarities:
  • Erotic content was a factor in the initial popularity of both media.
  • The rental model was a new economic model that allowed both books and videos to be available to a wider audience because it was more affordable than owning.
  • Both industries experienced backlash from producers (booksellers and movie studios) that thought the rental market would hurt the overall market, but it turns out to have helped provide more demand in both cases.
The authors also posit that circulating libraries helped to increase literacy during the 19th century by bringing more books to the masses. (And since erotic content helped fuel the interest in circulating libraries, you have the title of the blog post.)

Circulating Libraries and Video Rental Stores by Richard Roehl and Hal R. Varian
First Monday, volume 6, number 5 (May 2001),

Art De Vany: Evolutionary Fitness

Art De Vany: Chapter One

Art De Vany has made the first chapter of his new book, Evolutionary Fitness, available on his website. His theory is that our genes have not evolved much since the stone age, and we are living a lifestyle not conducive to our genotypes. He advocates intense, short workouts that vary (sounds like crossfit) as opposed to either pure endurance or pure anaerobic (power lifting) workouts. Interesting read. His blog is interesting stuff, too.

My First Pull-up!

I did my first pull-up at Crossfit on Monday. (Actually, I did four in a row. These are "kipping pull-ups, not "dead-hang.") It's sort of a milestone, especially for women. I was as giddy as when I got my first point shoes!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Murder in the Library, Part 2: J - Z - Britannica Blog

Murder in the Library, Part 2: J - Z - Britannica Blog

More books to put on my reading list.... books which feature murders in libraries. Here is an example:

Allen Kurzweil, The Grand Complication. New York: Hyperion, 2001. Bibliophile Henry James Jesson III hires New York Public Library reference librarian Alexander Short to identify the missing object in an 18th-century cabinet of curiosities. Involved in the intrigue is George Speaight, the curator of the erotica-oriented Center for Material Culture, whose nickname is the “Librarian of Sexual Congress.”

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why home ownership causes unemployment. - By Tim Harford - Slate Magazine

Why home ownership causes unemployment. - By Tim Harford - Slate Magazine: "The Renter's Manifesto: Why home ownership causes unemployment.
By Tim Harford
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2007, at 12:09 AM ET"

An interesting article. Harford posits that owning a home prevents one from changing jobs easily by saddling people to a particular city. Perhaps this is true. But what is it that prevents people from selling and moving besides their own reluctance and emotional ties?

"So, professor Oswald is right to argue that we should do everything possible to free up impediments to renting or to selling a house and buying a new one."

What impediments? Perhaps he is talking about governments "no growth" policies that drive the prices of homes above what most people can afford, or the fact that selling a house requires so much time and effort compared to moving out of an apartment? I wish he were more specific about this.

My Name is on the Rise!

Quick! Name your baby "Julia" before everyone else does!

Data is according to Baby Name Wizard's Name Voyager.

(In case you can't read it, the left-most decade on the bottom is 1880's, and the right-most date is 2005.)